Bozeman Commission green lights raises, increased parking fines, Bozeman Ponds expansion


BOZEMAN, Mont. - On Monday night, the Bozeman City Commission decided to give themselves a raise.

Commissioners will get $300 more month, bringing their compensation up from $900 to $1,200 each month.

The Mayor would make $450 more, and see an $1,800 paycheck instead of the current $1,350.

Commissioners were torn on the issue.

Mayor Sean Becker previously told NBC Montana he favored the raises because, he said, serving on the Commission requires a flexible job and a lot of time.

He felt the lower pay kept the opportunity to serve on the commission out of most citizens' hands.

However, Deputy Mayor Jeff Krauss strongly opposed the raises. He told NBC Montana that he worried serving on the commission would turn into a money-driven endeavor instead of a desire to truly serve the city.

He said he felt it would lead to more corruption within city goverment.

At the end of the discussion late Monday night, commissioners approved the proposal by 3-2- with Krauss and Commissioner Cyndy Andrus voting against it.

Also on the agenda Monday night, commissioners passed a proposal 4-1 that will raise certain parking fines. Krauss was the only dissenter.

Fines will triple for drivers caught parking in the residential areas around Montana State University without a proper permit.

Currently, anyone wanting to park in the residential district around campus must have a special permit for that area.

Anyone who doesn't could get a $20 ticket. Now, it will go to $60- the same price as a parking violation on campus.

The city said more students without passes were parking in the neighborhood and risking a ticket there instead of on campus, because of that $40 difference.

The parking fine increases will also apply to safety violations- like parking in front of a fire hydrant. That will go from $20 to $50 dollars.

The proposal also called for raising street maintenance violation tickets from $20 to $30, but commissioners decided not to raise those ticket rates.

Those tickets are handed out when people park on a street that's posted with portable no parking signs for things like street sweeping and leaf cleanup.

During their meeting on Monday, commissioners also discussed and voted to approve an expansion project for Bozeman Ponds, paid for by funds from the Parks and Trails Bond.

It's a two-phase project for the expansion and development of the 12 acre area north of the park.

They broke the proposal up into two votes- first, they gave the go ahead 5-0 for purchase of the land by the Gallatin Valley Land Trust, who's partnering with HAVEN on the parcel.

The city will buy nine acres for $600,000.

The second vote covered Phase II, and passed 4-1 with Krauss giving the "no" vote.

This part includes the development of the park land- including a natural park, an off-leash dog exercise area, trail connections, restrooms and a parking lot.

The whole project will cost just over $1 million, and would come from the $15 million Parks and Trails Bond.